Lititz woman facing charges for fake GoFundMe page

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LITITZ, Pa. -- There are hundreds of thousands of GoFundMe pages to raise money for people in need.

Police in Lititz, Lancaster County said 31-year-old Nicole Leahy took advantage of that.

Detective Jevon Miller said, "A girl from Florida contacted us about an account that she had found using her family's tragic story of her son passing to raise money."

Miller said the woman who contacted him started a GoFundMe account in December 2015 for her one-year-old son's medical and funeral expenses. He died from a medical complication.

Police said Leahy, who lives in Lititz, also made a GoFundMe account in December 2015 for that Florida family with the same story.

More than $500 was given to Leahy's page, but the mother told police Leahy never gave the money to the family.

Miller said, "It was brought to her attention. She did a lot of research on her own and figured out that the Facebook user associated with the account lived in Lititz and she reached out to us."

The two women had never met in person, but communicated briefly on Facebook.
Detectives charged Leahy back in December with theft by deception, a second-degree misdemeanor.

Officials said in a case like this, it's difficult to find out if the GoFundMe page you are donating to is going to a legitimate cause.

Miller said, "You really have no way to verify to someone that would have that question whether it's legitimate or not without doing a lot of research into it or reaching out to the people that actually have that."

Miller said he hasn't heard of many cases like this where people make fake GoFundMe accounts.

He said, "It's just all around just a horrible way to treat a family that's going through one of the worst possible things you could probably imagine in losing your child."

Police said Leahy's GoFundMe account is no longer active, and they are giving the $560 donated to the Florida family.

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